The theme of PBA’s Tuesday games was simple.
To borrow from NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, in order to win an almost evenly-matched affair, the team must play, well, like a team.
And ball movement became the key for both the Kia Carnival (defeated Blackwater Elite 83-76 in double-overtime) and Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters (defeated NLEX Road Warriors 108-89) as they outworked their opponents using unselfishness and fluid team basketball.
While the Kia-Blackwater operated at a not-so-encouraging pace with both teams shooting an atrocious 33 percent from the field, the biggest difference was the disparity in assists.
The Carnival assisted 18 of its 30 field goals, trying to look for the best shot by using a four-out unit to surround Hamady N’Diaye. The Elite in contrast settled for many one-on-one plays and only had 11 of their 31 makes assisted.
And if it wasn’t for Brian Heruela (3 assists), who was visibly the only playmaker with an effort to attack the lane and create for his teammates, that number would have gone even worse.
“I think we did move the ball a lot better. That is what we practice everyday, getting everyone involved, and playing team ball,” Kia’s Karl Dehesa, who had 4 dimes, quipped of the difference of the match as the Carnival rose to 3-1 in the standings.
“We trust our teammates. We know our roles for the team so if coach gives me that role as a facilitator, I just have to do it,” Kia’s main facilitator LA Revilla added.
In the second game, the Tropang Texters assisted 30 of their 45 makes, one more than the total of the Kia-Blackwater game. By halftime, the crew already had 15, showcasing pristine touch-passing especially in the first half to get easy points in the shaded area.
“Maganda ang nangyari kasi nakikita namin ang mga open man. Nagkaroon ng mga assists. Sana magtuloy-tuloy. Basta maraming assists, mas malaki ang chance manalo,” Ranidel de Ocampo, who had 8 assists to go with his 12 points and 8 rebounds, said.
Talk ‘N Text shot 53 percent overall including 35 percent from three-point territory. The Road Warriors only had 12 dimes, and understandably, relied on Asi Taulava’s presence as he was the most dominant player in the match. The big man had 25 points and 13 rebounds, but outside of him, NLEX struggled to move the ball well and resorted to forced shots.
Jayson Castro, who returned from a 3-game absence, bared that it was the team’s goal to always fill the assists box of the stat sheet and it surely made the difference.
“Yun ang goal namin, maka 25 assists lagi dahil lahat naman sa amin pwede mag-score,” he said.
Kia and Talk ‘N Text are now both 3-1 in the conference, thanks in large part to playing efficient team basketball.